Tag Archives: East Side Access

Sunnyside Yards development back in discussion with possible study

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jim Henderson/ Wikipedia Commons

The space above the Sunnyside Yards railroad complex could contain a hospital, affordable housing buildings, a school, a public space or some combination of those to form a new community.

At this point, Community Board 2 isn’t sure what could be built, but members approved urging Borough President Melinda Katz to begin a feasibility study regarding “decking,” or building a platform above the railroad tracks, in a public meeting Thursday — a plan that has long been floated around by top city officials.

Board chair Joseph Conley brought the matter up in the meeting for a vote, even though he wasn’t sure how much square footage of space the area would create and couldn’t pinpoint future challenges.

However, he suggested the project would cover just the Long Island City end of the yards —the southwest portion from about Jackson Avenue and 21st Street eastward to either the Thomson Avenue or Queens Boulevard walk-overs.

Photo courtesy of Bing Maps

Photo courtesy of Bing Maps

Some members complained that creating more housing in the area would increase the need for public services and infrastructure.

But Conley reasoned that it would be good to explore the ability to use the space, especially for affordable housing, as land prices continue to shoot upward in nearby communities such as Long Island City.

“There are a lot of things that have to be discussed: transportation of course, traffic, schools, all the things that we live with… but at least it starts the dialogue to say what if,” Conley said. “And that’s exactly what we did on Hunter’s Point South.

The 167-acre Sunnyside Yards is owned by Amtrak and shared with the LIRR and NJ Transit. The MTA is working on its East Side Access project at the railroad complex, which will connect the LIRR to a new station beneath Grand Central Terminal.

Plans concerning decking over the yards for development have been discussed in the past. The site was included in New York City’s Olympic bid in 1997, according to the Regional Planning Association, an urban research group.

Also, Daniel Doctoroff, former deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, had a city planning team conduct an analysis of the possibility for decking and development over Sunnyside Yards.

But whether this new study will lead to a development is still up in the air.


Crews complete LIRR tunnel

| aaltman@queenscourier.com


The burrow between two boroughs is complete.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) workers made contact at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 20, finishing a major tunnel of the East Side Access project and bringing Manhattan and Queens closer than ever. Workers broke through the final barrier, connecting the thoroughfare, just under Northern Boulevard and 41st Avenue in Long Island City.

According to MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan, this 120-foot-long segment of tunnel cost $96.8 million to construct — just a sliver of the overall cost of the East Side Access project to connect the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to Grand Central Terminal, estimated at $8.24 billion. The tunnel connecting the two boroughs, which measures 60 feet wide and 40 feet tall and runs more than 3.5 miles long, will bring trains on the Long Island Railroad from the new station at 37th Street and Park Avenue to the Sunnyside Yard.

According to Donovan, the roughly 219,000 commuters from Queens and Long Island who rely on the LIRR daily to get to their jobs in Manhattan will have their commutes shortened by between 15 and 30 minutes per day.

“[Commuters] will no longer need to take a train to Penn Station, and backtrack to the East Side by walking or taking a subway or bus,” said Donovan. “In the future, from every LIRR station, you’ll have a choice about whether you want to take a train to Penn Station or a train to Grand Central. It’s the largest expansion of the LIRR in 100 years, a virtual ‘moon shot’ that will double the LIRR’s capacity to move people into and out of Manhattan.”

Gina Moffa currently spends an hour in transit to get from her home in Franklin Square, Long Island, to her Midtown Manhattan office. The People StyleWatch reporter, who admits she doesn’t know much about the ongoing expansion, is hopeful the extension will ease her commute. She believes the train’s arrival point of Grand Central instead of Penn Station will alleviate the extreme congestion that the west side terminus experiences.

“I am hopeful that it will ease my commute and reduce the time I spend on the train every morning,” said Moffa. “I’d be extremely happy if this expansion shed just 15 or 20 minutes off of my commute.”

Construction on the overall East Side Access project began in 2007 and the MTA was awarded the contract to build this segment of the tunnel in February 2010. The project is expected to be finished in August of 2019.


MTA completes tunnel under Sunnyside Yard

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

tunnel 2w

The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) plan to connect the LIRR from Queens to Manhattan is on track to finish ahead of schedule.

Transit workers completed the third of four tunnels underneath Sunnyside Yard for the approximately $8.2 billion East Side Access project, which is planned for August 2019, officials said.

The nearly half-a-mile long tunnel was finished on May 29, and will eventually allow riders to travel eastbound from Grand Central Terminal to the Jamaica and Port Washington stations.

“We are delighted to complete this important milestone,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. He added, “Each piece of the project that we bring in ahead of schedule means we can dedicate resources to those parts of the project that most need attention.”

For the next seven years the MTA has a challenging process to finish the “largest transportation infrastructure project” in the United States.

The agency plans to carve the final tunnel by August of this year, which will serve to transport passengers from Queens to Manhattan.

Then transit workers and contractors will build a station 15 stories below Grand Central Terminal, lay tracks, and install ventilation plants in Manhattan at 44th, 50th and 55th Streets.

The MTA also needs to excavate 100 feet of tunnel underneath heavily-trafficked Northern Boulevard to connect the completed tunnel under the East River to the four tunnels in Sunnyside, while supporting the subway, the streets and an elevated station.

However, the most challenging part of the project will be balancing full service of the LIRR, Amtrak and NJ Transit while workers labor to connect the new track, according to a representative.